Cumberland Times-News

Local News

September 18, 2010

Convicted Bedford County killer loses bid for new trial

Three-judge panel affirms conviction, life sentence

— BEDFORD, Pa. — A convicted killer in Bedford County has lost his bid for a new trial.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court has affirmed the conviction and life sentence of Joseph Clark, who was convicted in June 2008 in the first-degree murder for the killing of Holly Notestine, a 25-year-old mother of two young children. Notestine lived with her husband, Ron Gruff, and and their two children, Chastity, 6, and Logan, 4, on their family farm in the Clearville area of Bedford County.

Notestine was abducted from their home in front of her two children by a man fitting the description of Joseph Clark. The man was driving a car fitting the description of a car owned by Clark.

On April 30, 2000, shortly after Notestine’s abduction, Clark’s vehicle became engulfed in flames at his residence. That fire was later determined to have been intentionally set. A tire track matching a tire on Clark's vehicle was located on the Grubb/Notestine property. Clark provided police with inconsistent information re-garding his whereabouts on the day of the abduction. Notestine’s skeletal remains were found March 27, 2004, on an abandoned logging road, midway between the Clark property and the Grubb/Notestine farm. The clothes that Notestine was wearing on the day of her disappearance were located with her remains.

On Aug. 21, 2008, Clark was sentenced to life in prison.

“Obviously, this is another step toward closure for the Notestine and Grubb families, although the pain caused by the senseless murder of Holly will never go away. It is gratifying to be able to tell Ron, Chastity and Logan that we are one more step closer to ensuring that the depraved, heartless monster that took their mom away from there will remain behind bars until the day he dies,” said Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins.

“We are certainly pleased, though not surprised, with the Superior Court decision. This murderer has repeatedly refused to accept responsibility for taking Holly from her husband and children, and I don’t expect that will ever change,“ said Assistant District Attorney Travis Livengood, who assisted Higgins in prosecution of the case.  

Clark will have 14 days to petition the Superior Court for reargument or 30 days to file a petition for allowance of appeal to the Supreme Court.

The defendant, through his attorney, Thomas Crawford, raised approximately 15 issues for the court’s consideration ranging from insufficient evidence to his alleged mistreatment at the county jail. The Superior Court found that none of these claims had any merit. The ruling by the court was detailed in a 48-page memorandum dated Aug. 30.

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